Thinking outside of consciousness

Is it possible that one might make better decisions by not giving them any conscious thought and instead letting the unconscious deal with the matter? The Dutch psychologist Ap Dijksterhuis has studied unconscious processes and claims their superiority over consciousness for some types of problems. You can read a summary of his work here.

However, Arnaud Rey and colleagues have followed up Dijksterhuis’ work. They propose that the inclusion of proper control comparisons shows that the best interpretation of the data is not that unconscious processing helps, but rather that in some situations too much conscious processing hinders decision making. Their article is available here.

A recent New Yorker article mentions Dijksterhuis’ studies in the context of the importance of replicability. Attempts to replicate the unconscious decision-making effect have not yielded as impressive results as did the original study. You can read the report here.